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Celebrating 40 years of service with Darren Nicholls
Insights - What We Think

[Link Group] [Company Matters]

Darren Nicholls | Head of Client Business Management, Corporate Markets

One of Link Group’s UK members of staff celebrated a very special anniversary this month. Our very own Darren Nicholls, Head of Client Business Management, Corporate Markets was recently presented with gifts and subjected to the obligatory speech to mark an incredible 40 years of service.

Many of you reading this will have fond experiences working with Darren, but even if you’ve not – he has a wealth of knowledge which you can tap into. So we sat him down to find out what he considers to be the four biggest changes to the working environment in the last four decades. Hairspray at the ready, let’s head back to 1983 to find out.

1. Technology 

“A typical day in the office in 1983 was a very different experience compared to today. The first thing you would notice after you’d made your way through the plumes of cigarette smoke and managed to avoid Winnie the tea lady pushing her large tea urn around on a trolley would be how different the tools of the trade were. Not much was computerised then, but we did have access to cutting-edge green screen monitors, magnetic tape drives to store data and the latest dot matrix printers. PCs and laptops were not present then. Beyond that, everything was manual which meant the volume of paper handled was very high. Lots of paper forms, certificates and cheques was the norm across all transactions – which meant that all hands-on deck were needed at every stage of the process.

Although cheques and paper certificates are still very much a mainstay of the transactions we carry out, the volume has decreased year-on-year since 1983, and we are not far off realistically catching up with our European counterparts and digitising all aspects of our eco-system. Automation is the name of the game, and the way that Link are continuing to build out more simple and effective processes is truly inspiring.”

2. Culture 

“London is a very different landscape today. Not only has the skyline dramatically changed since I joined the professional workforce, the culture and working practices that take place in its midst has made many leaps and bounds. One of the best parts of my role is the variety of challenges and projects. Adapting to handle large-scale events at short notice really keeps you on your toes, and it is a great time to bring people together across various teams. Everyone steps ups and rises to the occasion.

The increased focus on diversity and inclusion is something which has played a vital part in ensuring we can build better teams and achieve our long-term goals. There will always be more to do to ensure people from all walks of society get a fair shot, but I am proud to work for an organisation which leads the way on this front.”

3. Regulation

“Regulation is at the heart of our industry, and it too has gone through several enhancements in the last 40 years. The last four decades have seen the creation of Save As You Earn plans, and Share Incentive Plans, which have become one of the most celebrated ways for our clients to reward their employees and retain top talent. The creation of the AIM market has also allowed a range of high-growth companies to fulfil their aspirations as a listed company here in London. New markets and evolving investment vehicles gives us the opportunity to not only broaden our remit as a service provider, but also to feed into conversations with our partners around the industry to drive improvements to how we govern ourselves, and serve our clients and their shareholders.

At the centre of this, the overall attitude and behaviours related to risk awareness, risk taking and risk management has significantly improved. This in itself benefits everyone.”

4. Globalisation

“I’d say the rise of globalisation is the final biggest change which I’ve witnessed in the last four decades. Much has changed at a societal level, making it easier to travel to and transact internationally. A significant boost to our own global capabilities has been the acquisition of our business by Sydney-based Link Group in 2018.

Each respective market has its own strengths and weaknesses, but by joining forces – we can collaborate which truly enhances our ability to simplify our business, grow and deliver for our clients. As we move forward, the results are beginning to permeate into the day-to-day processes which means our clients can benefit from the best of both worlds for the next 40 years and beyond. At the time of writing, we are the largest share registrar globally, working with 40% of listed companies and supporting 35m shareholders – which I think says a lot.”

To wrap things up, below is a photo of Darren being presented with his 40th anniversary gong and a bottle of fizz by Justin Smith, Director of Client Relationships. Thank you Darren for these insights, and for your years of dedication. You are, and will always be, a Link Group Legend. 

Darren Nicholls

Head of Client Business Management, Corporate Markets